United states of child poverty
from David Ruccio
Who cares about the children? Certainly not the United States.
According to a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation [pdf], over the last decade, child poverty surged in 38 states and erased many of the gains in child well-being made in the last 20 years. For the nation as a whole, child poverty increased 18 percent between 2000 and 2009: from 17 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2009. That means, 14.7 children now live in poor households, 2.5 million more than a decade ago.
The map above shows the percentage of poor children state by state: from a low of 11 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 31 percent in Mississippi. (For those keeping track of the so-called Texas Miracle, it ranks 41st among the 50 states, with a child poverty rate of 24 percent.)
If those numbers aren’t bad enough, the percentage of children living in low-income households (i.e., households with incomes twice the poverty level or $43,512 for a family of two adults and two children in 2009) is now 42 percent.
The report goes on to discuss a wide range of other issues, from the effects of adult unemployment and home foreclosures on child poverty to teen birth and death rates.
But, for me, the national embarrassment is how the costs of the crisis have been shifted onto the children, and the effects this will have on their—and our—future.
The recession hit families with children hard, especially those who were already vulnerable. Three years after the downturn began, unemployment and the proportion of households at risk for foreclosure remain high, and many families have depleted what little savings or other assets they had. The result is that large numbers of our nation’s children are living in families that continue to face deep economic insecurity. Racial and ethnic disparities in income and wealth are wider than before the crisis. Without positive action, these conditions will put a substantial portion of the nation’s children at risk for adverse educational, health, and other nega- tive outcomes that may limit their future productivity and our country’s long-term economic stability.